Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/16/1996 08:07 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE April 16, 1996 8:07 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Jeannette James, Chair Representative Scott Ogan, Vice Chair Representative Joe Green Representative Ivan Ivan Representative Brian Porter Representative Caren Robinson Representative Ed Willis MEMBERS ABSENT All members present. COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 136 "An Act mandating the sale of the Alaska Railroad; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD HOUSE BILL NO. 545 "An Act relating to the cost-of-living differential for certain public employees residing in the state and the criteria for determining eligibility for the differential; and providing for an effective date." - PASSED CSHB 545(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 61 Opposing the proposed changes in the functions of the federal Office of Veterans Affairs in Anchorage. - PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 546 "An Act providing for and relating to the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $600,211,000 for the purpose of paying the cost of acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, and equipping public schools and of repair and major maintenance of public school and University of Alaska facilities; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 34 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to the duration of a regular session. - PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 490 "An Act relating to grants and other financial assistance authorized or made by the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation for the BIDCO assistance program." - WAIVED OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 136 SHORT TITLE: MANDATE SALE OF ALASKA RAILROAD SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MARTIN JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/30/95 174 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/30/95 174 (H) TRA, STA, FIN 04/03/96 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 04/03/96 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 04/09/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/10/96 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 04/11/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/12/96 (H) FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 04/12/96 3691 (H) TRA RPT CS(TRA) NT 1DP 5NR 1AM 04/12/96 3692 (H) DP: G.DAVIS 04/12/96 3692 (H) NR: WILLIAMS, SANDERS, LONG, JAMES 04/12/96 3692 (H) NR: MASEK 04/12/96 3692 (H) AM: BRICE 04/12/96 3692 (H) INDETERMINATE FISCAL NOTE (DCED) 04/12/96 3692 (H) FISCAL NOTE (LAW) 04/12/96 3692 (H) 2 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (GOV, DOT) 04/12/96 3692 (H) REFERRED TO STATE AFFAIRS 04/13/96 (H) FIN AT 1:00 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 04/16/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 545 SHORT TITLE: PUB. EMPLOYEE COST OF LIVING DIFFERENTIAL SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 03/22/96 3269 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 03/22/96 3269 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE 03/22/96 3269 (H) 3 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (ADM, REV, DOT) 03/22/96 3269 (H) GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER 04/04/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/04/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/09/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/09/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/11/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/11/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/13/96 (H) STA AT 10:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/13/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/16/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HJR 61 SHORT TITLE: ANCHORAGE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 03/08/96 3029 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 03/08/96 3029 (H) MLV, STATE AFFAIRS 03/22/96 (H) MLV AT 5:00 PM CAPITOL 17 03/22/96 (H) MINUTE(MLV) 03/25/96 3308 (H) MLV RPT 4DP 03/25/96 3309 (H) DP: FOSTER, WILLIS, KOTT, IVAN 03/25/96 3309 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (H.MLV/GOV) 04/04/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/04/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/16/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 546 SHORT TITLE: G.O. BONDS: SCHOOLS & UNIV. SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 03/22/96 3270 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 03/22/96 3270 (H) STA, HES, FINANCE 03/26/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 03/26/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/04/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/04/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/09/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/09/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/11/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/11/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/16/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HJR 34 SHORT TITLE: LIMIT LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO 90 DAYS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) SANDERS JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 03/08/95 641 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 03/08/95 641 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 03/28/96 (H) STA AT 8:15 AM CAPITOL 102 03/28/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 03/30/96 (H) STA AT 10:00 AM CAPITOL 102 03/30/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/04/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/04/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/09/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/09/96 (H) MINUTE(STA) 04/11/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 04/12/96 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 04/16/96 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 502 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 465-3783 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 136. JEFF COOK, Vice President MAPCO Alaska Petroleum Inc. 1076 Ocean Dock Road Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 276-4100 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 136. DAVID THOMPSON, Conductor Alaska Railroad Corporation 327 Ship Creek Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 265-2459 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 136. PATRICK GULLUFSEN, Assistant District Attorney Governmental Affairs Section Civil Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 Telephone: (907) 465-3600 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 545. JULIE KNUTSON HC 60 P.O. Box 229K Copper Center, Alaska 99573 Telephone: (907) 822-3717 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided testimony on HB 546. REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 414 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 465-4945 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HJR 34. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-53, SIDE A Number 0015 The House State Affairs Committee was called to order by Chair Jeannette James at 8:07 a.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Willis, Ivan, Porter, Ogan and James. Members absent were Representatives Robinson and Green. The record reflected the arrival of Representatives Robinson and Green at 8:09 a.m. HB 136 - MANDATE SALE OF ALASKA RAILROAD The first order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was CSHB 136(TRA) (9-LS0438/G). CHAIR JEANNETTE JAMES called on Representative Terry Martin, sponsor of HB 136, to present the bill to the committee members. Number 0149 REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN explained his intention to sponsor HB 136 was to determine what the state had. The railroad was now a hot subject, it had received a few offers to buy it. Therefore, everyone was wondering what should be done with it. He explained, according to an audit, there were hundreds of thousands of acres involved. He cited Girdwood, Whittier, Seward, half of downtown Fairbanks and Anchorage as areas where there was land involved. The state had completed its commitment to the federal government to keep it running for 10 years. He agreed the state did a fabulous job allowing it to run independently. However, the reason it was able to run on its own was because of the land. The land had been subsidizing it to keep it running. He reiterated, "let's see what we have." He suggested starting by transferring the land from the federal government to the state government. He did not care who received the land for the state, but an orderly transfer was necessary. He said the railroad corporation had already started transferring some select property but there was no way to know for sure. He reiterated the land and the railroad belonged to the state. It was time to see what the state had, and outline an orderly process in the event the state wanted to sell the land. Number 0357 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER asked Representative Martin what this bill provided to the state? Number 0365 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied right now it was open. The bill stated it would complete the commitment to sell the railroad as promised in 1982. He explained, historically, many felt the state would get stuck with "a goose that wouldn't fly." The federal government was willing to buy it for $100 million. The state did not want to buy it for that much money, however. The offer was followed by debate. Finally, the state bought it for $20 million. He reiterated it was time again to look at what the state had. Number 0470 CHAIR JAMES explained HB 136 was waived from the House State Affairs Committee last week. However, there was impetus in both the House and the Senate to move forward with a mandatory sale of the railroad. She informed the committee members there was a committee substitute now being drafted of which would be presented later. There would not be any action taken on the bill today. Number 0578 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN explained his staff was working close with the Senate so they knew better than anybody the status of the bills in both chambers. Number 0635 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN further said he hoped that the two major programs could be pushed through the House. He reiterated it was important to determine what the state had. The House Budget and Audit Committee had the capability to determine what the state had so that the state could sell what it wanted. Number 0692 CHAIR JAMES said she understood the concerns of Representative Martin. She was concerned, however, about returning the land back to the state. She was more interested in having the land developed. Furthermore, she was also more interested in a bigger railroad, not a smaller railroad. Therefore, land acquisitions were necessary. It appeared that some of the land Representative Martin mentioned would have good trading stock value. Therefore, selling the land was premature. Number 0784 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied Senator Bennett from Fairbanks was the last person to study the value of the land surrounding the railroad. He looked at expanding the railroad east from Fairbanks to Dawson. It was time to resurrect those reports to see what the state had. Number 0827 CHAIR JAMES replied in 1993 legislation was passed that authorized $10,000 to identify the cost of securing private interest for the land. She suggested checking the status of that money. REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN said the state could save money by researching what had been done before. The state was almost at the point of being beyond the point of research, action was the next step. CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in Anchorage, Jeff Cook. Number 0887 JEFF COOK, Vice President, MAPCO Alaska Petroleum Inc., explained his company was the largest customer of the Alaska Railroad Corporation. He cited the company leased over 350 rail anchor cars to move oil. In 1995 the company paid more than $23 million to the Alaska Railroad Corporation. MAPCO was very concerned about the sale of the railroad in view of the long-term contracts of which about 12 years remain. MAPCO had an excellent relationship and strategic alliance with it. Furthermore, MAPCO was very happy with the service it had received. MAPCO felt the bill was moving too fast. He suggested an interim committee or task force to look at the issue further and to include the major customers, such as MAPCO, as a participant. Number 1051 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked Mr. Cook, if a piece of legislation included the procedure that he just described, would he support moving the bill forward? Number 1063 MR. COOK replied "yes." He would support a bill that included the approach he indicated. CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness in Juneau, David Thompson. Number 1083 DAVID THOMPSON, Conductor, Alaska Railroad Corporation, said he was here today representing conductors and engineers of the Alaska Railroad Corporation. They were concerned because the bill did not address how the railroad would operate in the future. Furthermore, when the railroad went from federal ownership to state ownership, many employees remained in the federal retirement system. He suggested looking into that issue further before another transfer of owners. He said this would affect 186 employees. He reiterated there were many issues that had not been addressed in the bill. It took four years for the first transfer, therefore, more time was needed to look at the issues further. Number 1169 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON asked Mr. Thompson, if his group had also considered a task force approach, and if so, who would he recommend be a part of that task force? Number 1190 MR. THOMPSON replied they had not discussed the formation of a task force. He suggested including union representation as part of the task force. Number 1218 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked what was the time schedule for the joint task force? CHAIR JAMES responded the issues of how big, the members, the time frame, and the goals still needed to be addressed. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wondered if it would happen before the end of session. CHAIR JAMES replied the committee substitute that addressed this would be here by Thursday, April 18, 1996. Furthermore, she was opposed to any fast track sale of the Alaska Railroad Corporation. She did not want to give away state assets. As a legislator she was responsible to maximize whatever the state had, and to protect the employees of the railroad. HB 545 - PUB. EMPLOYEE COST OF LIVING DIFFERENTIAL The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was CSHB 545(STA) (9-GH2067/F). CHAIR JAMES called on Patrick Gullufsen, Department of Law, to present the committee substitute. Number 1345 PATRICK GULLUFSEN, Assistant Attorney General, Governmental Affairs Section, Civil Division, Department of Law, said the committee substitute addressed the concerns of the definition of state residency. The definition was taken directly from the permanent fund dividend (PFD) statute. The authority was also given to the Commissioner of the Department of Administration to implement and clarify the criteria for the purposes of the cost-of-living differential (COLD) through regulations. Furthermore, in subsection (c), page 2, it clarified that the criteria were not subject to negotiation. The allowable absences were also clarified that they were temporary absences in comparison to the five year absence for the PFD, for example. He referred the committee members to Section 2, subsection (b), and explained it was an attempt to resolve the dispute if a person was only in the state for purposes of the ferry that time was not counted towards residency. Number 1531 CHAIR JAMES explained her concerns in the beginning were the issues surrounding a state resident. She wondered about the seasonal workers on the ferry. She did not consider them a state resident because they did not live in Alaska during the off-period. However, she did believe they were entitled to the COLD. She recognized that was hard to address in a statute, however. She further wondered about some of the allowable absences cited in the bill. She asked Mr. Gullufsen if service in Congress was reasonable? She could not imagine a state employee serving time in Congress for any reason. Number 1699 MR. GULLUFSEN replied it would be an unusual circumstance. The provision was taken directly from the PFD definition. It was possible that a marine highway system employee would run for Congress and get elected. CHAIR JAMES replied, in that case, he could not continue to be a state employee. MR. GULLUFSEN said the question to consider was should he lose his residency for the period of time he was in Washington D.C. The provision would allow him to maintain his residency status to receive the COLD upon his return. He reiterated it would be an unusual circumstance. Number 1749 CHAIR JAMES wondered how long a person had to be in Alaska before he received the COLD. She also wondered, if a person that just moved to Alaska with the intention to stay, would receive the COLD. Number 1766 MR. GULLUFSEN replied, "most likely he would." He said the issue needed to be looked at harder, however. He said other criteria needed to be looked at further for additional support, such as, home ownership. If the person still owned a home in Seattle, Washington, for example, that was an indication that he did not intend to remain in Alaska. Number 1824 CHAIR JAMES asked Mr. Gullufsen if service in the Peace Corps was needed? Number 1827 MR. GULLUFSEN replied that was part of the PFD definitions. He said it would be an unusual circumstance. It would be unfortunate to exclude eligibility for the COLD upon return from the Peace Corps, however. Number 1843 CHAIR JAMES stated a COLD was intended to cover the extra cost incurred to live in Alaska. This could be simply stated. It was difficult for her to understand that all of these provisions were needed. She even believed a seasonal employee should receive the COLD while he was living in Alaska. She felt that the PFD was a benefit to Alaskans, and the COLD was intended to help offset the cost of living in Alaska. It was a comparison of apples and oranges. Number 1910 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he did not consider a person working seasonally in Alaska then returning to Washington, for example, an Alaskan resident. That was not the purpose of the COLD. Number 1924 CHAIR JAMES replied the legislators were not Juneau residents when here for session in Juneau. However, a per diem was paid because it cost money to be here. She understood that was a different issue, but that was what she envisioned the COLD would be used for. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied when he left Juneau he did not go to Seattle, for example. CHAIR JAMES said she understood the response of Representative Porter. She wondered about a married couple whereby one worked seasonally in Alaska and the rest of the family remained in Seattle, for example. It should be the entire family. She said she would let the Department of Administration hammer the details out. She was not convinced the bill would give the department all the necessary tools, however. Number 1964 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wondered if the word "temporarily" would create a problem for interpretation in the future. Number 1986 MR. GULLUFSEN replied he did not think the word "temporarily" would create a problem. He felt the word actually helped the issue. Regulations would be needed to address the main and specific problems that were raised. Number 2010 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he was not questioning a temporary absence. He was concerned that the PFD criteria would cause a problem for the marine highway system. Number 2046 MR. GULLUFSEN replied, "time will tell." It was a good point. Number 2051 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained a piece of legislation in the Senate addressed eliminating all allowable absences from the PFD program. She did not know how that would impact the COLD if both bodies decided to accept the legislation. She asked Mr. Gullufsen how he would draft the bill if there was not a permanent fund program? Number 2088 MR. GULLUFSEN replied he did not know. He thought the Administration would look at not allowing any absences. However, that would present legal and fairness issues. The Administration would probably look at allowing absences but not opening the door too wide. It was nice to have the guidance from the PFD program. Number 2121 CHAIR JAMES stated if CSHB 545(STA) (9-GH2067/F) was passed the criteria would be put into statute. Therefore, if the PFD criteria were changed, it would not affect this bill. She reiterated the criteria for the PFD and the COLD were different because the PFD was based on presence in Alaska rather than residency. She did not feel that state residency was the way to pursue this issue. However, the bill was important because it would eliminate the possibility of future arbitration. Number 2200 CHAIR JAMES further said the bill was premature and had not been thoroughly thought out. Number 2219 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that CSHB 545(STA) (9-GH2067/F) be adopted as a working document. Hearing no objection, it was so adopted. Number 2249 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved to delete "E" and "G" on page 2. Representative Robinson objected for discussion purposes. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said, if someone was to join the Peace Corps or get elected to Congress, he severed the ties with the marine highway system. Number 2291 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said if the system wanted to adopt the PFD criteria then it should accept all of the criteria. Number 2302 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied the committee substitute already tailored the criteria. The PFD was for on-going activity as a resident with certain allowable absences on a long-term basis. The COLD was for a very specific benefit for a small group of state employees. The difference was obvious to him. Number 2324 CHAIR JAMES said the difference between the two for her was the word "temporarily." Regulations would be needed to define the word "temporarily." Number 2335 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON responded many of the provisions allowed an absence for one to two years, such as the Peace Corps. She stated she did not really know what was right either. She reiterated the provisions were included for a reason for the PFD. CHAIR JAMES stated a person could continue to be a state employee according to some of the provisions. A person, however, that went to the Peace Corps did not continue to be a state employee. Number 2385 MR. GULLUFSEN said the word "temporarily" allowed the Administration to look at a person in the Peace Corps and determine if there was also a change in residency. The Administration would prefer to see the provisions remain in the bill. Number 2431 CHAIR JAMES said a state resident was one who was physically present in the state with the intent to remain permanently. There was nothing in the bill to indicate how long a person had to be in Alaska to receive the COLD. CHAIR JAMES called for a roll call vote. Representatives James, Ogan, Ivan, and Porter voted in favor of the motion. Representatives Robinson and Willis voted against the motion. The motion passed. TAPE 96-53, SIDE B Number 0005 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that CSHB 545(STA) (9-GH2067/F) am move from the committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs Committee. CHAIR JAMES announced she would order the committee substitute and distribute it to the committee members before moving it forward to the next committee of referral - the House Judiciary Committee. HJR 61 - ANCHORAGE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HJR 61. CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Ed Willis to present the resolution to the committee members. Number 0056 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS explained the thrust of HJR 61 was brought to his attention by several groups of Anchorage veterans. He intended to start the resolution in the legislative process with the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs. However, a special committee could not introduce legislation after a certain date. He thanked Chair James for allowing the House State Affairs Committee to sponsor the resolution. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS further explained the thrust of the resolution was to support the Anchorage Veterans Affairs Regional Office as a result of the efforts of the federal government to downsize the office. The office now handled the compensation and pension functions and the effect of moving those function to Reno, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona would be inefficient and not in the best interest of Alaska's veterans. The resolution, if passed, would support the efforts of Alaska's Congressional delegation. He cited there were more than 73,000 veterans in Alaska, and the office serviced more than one-half of those veterans. He reiterated the thrust of the resolution was to give the Alaskan Congressional delegation another tool to fight the downsizing efforts of the federal government. Number 0152 CHAIR JAMES said Alaska probably had the highest percentage of veterans in its population compared to any other state. She agreed the veterans deserved attention from the legislature. They were a very important part of the population. Number 0192 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN thanked Representative Willis for sponsoring the resolution on behalf of the veterans in Alaska. He asked if the resolution was referred to the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs? CHAIR JAMES replied, "yes." REPRESENTATIVE IVAN further thanked Representative Willis for his care and support of this resolution. Number 0219 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HJR 61 move from the committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs Committee. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS thanked the Chair and the committee members for their support. HB 546 - G.O. BONDS: SCHOOLS & UNIV. The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HB 546. Number 0255 CHAIR JAMES explained HB 546 was scheduled today as a continuation of the subcommittee to share with everyone the changes. The subcommittee was addressing the equitability amongst the distribution of the money. There was also discussion surrounding general obligation bonds for locally owned school districts. It was discovered it had been done a number of times in Alaska before. The bonding capacity needed to be determined, however. It was indicated it could be $100 million per year. Therefore, this would need to be stretched out longer than five years. A handout titled, "FY 97 School District Capital Funding Allocations by Legislative District," was distributed to the committee members. She explained the total allocation per school district was calculated by multiplying the educational units generated by each district by $59,000. Number 0380 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked if the thrust of HB 546 was to try to balance the programs between the rural and urban areas. Number 0389 CHAIR JAMES replied, "that's correct." That was what the subcommittee was attempting to do. Number 0417 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER wondered why Mat-Su and Anchorage were combined in the same district. He was referring to the handout titled, "FY 97 School District Capital Funding Allocations by Legislative District." REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said Mat-Su had been asking that question for years now. Number 0429 CHAIR JAMES said it was possible to physically separate them on paper. It did not change the numbers, however. Number 0439 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied Mat-Su would not want any of its money distributed to Anchorage and vice versa. CHAIR JAMES reiterated a line could be drawn between the two on paper. It did not affect the numbers, however. Number 0480 CHAIR JAMES said she was concerned about Fairbanks and Denali because they were combined in the same district as well. The money allocated for Denali was not enough money for what was needed. The bill did not meet the needs of her district. Therefore, she was not that interested in the bill. That was going to be the typical response of many. She did not know how her district would get the money to fix the Tri-Valley School. There were not enough people in the district to pay for a new school. That was the typical problem for the rural areas. CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in Kenny Lake, Julie Knutson. CHAIR JAMES announced to Ms. Knutson that the amount allocated to her district in concern was $5,311,923 with a local match of $108,407. Number 0646 JULIE KNUTSON asked if that was for just Kenny Lake, or Kenny Lake and Glennallen? CHAIR JAMES replied that was for the Copper River regional education attendance area (REAA). MS. KNUTSON said Kenny Lake was in the same position as Anderson. She asked if the bill would benefit Anderson because of the 30 percent distribution match? Number 0688 CHAIR JAMES replied, "no." There was only a 2 percent distribution match for Copper River. She explained she was referring to the Denali area previously, not to the Anderson area. Number 0731 MS. KNUTSON said she was afraid Glennallen would end up with everything. Kenny Lake was not happy with the wording of the bill. She said Kenny Lake needed a new school desperately. The current building was falling apart and was becoming dangerous for the students. Number 0749 CHAIR JAMES replied the only way to divide the approximately $6 million around the state was through an application process to determine the priorities. That process had presented problems in the past, however. Some districts did not apply and there was concern surrounding the Department of Education's (DOE) evaluation process. Number 0798 MS. KNUTSON replied the Kenny Lake area wanted the legislature to know how badly it needed a new school. CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Knutson to define the school needs of Kenny Lake. Number 0820 MS. KNUTSON replied there were unhoused student, leaky faucets, an old furnace system, icing problems, and an old electrical system, to name a few. She cited a volunteer was electrocuted due to the electrical problems. CHAIR JAMES thanked Ms. Knutson for her testimony today. Number 0860 CHAIR JAMES announced she did not want to take any action today on HB 546. Her intention today was to inform the committee members the status of the subcommittee and to take any public testimony. CHAIR JAMES further explained the original bill considered the priority list of the Department of Education. She suggested returning to that list. Number 1130 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said the problem with the list from the was that Anchorage was short changed. She understood it was a matter of shifting dollars which meant that some districts would get less money. Number 1156 CHAIR JAMES said the list from DOE reflected those districts that had applied. It was obvious that Anchorage did not apply for whatever reasons. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said Anchorage did not meet the established criteria. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated Mat-Su was robbed according to the list produced by DOE. CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Ogan if Mat-Su applied? REPRESENTATIVE OGAN replied, "he did not know for sure." He assumed it did. CHAIR JAMES replied if a school district was not included on the list, it had not applied. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated if Mat-Su had known this was going to be a bond issue, it would have applied. If the state was going to fund the schools then he agreed with the proposed approach. CHAIR JAMES suggested giving the school districts a period of time for the application process. It would behoove the legislature to establish the priorities as opposed to the distribution. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said that was a laudable goal, but it had never happened before. A distribution would not meet anybody's needs entirely. That fact needed to be accepted. Once that was accepted, it could then be said the money was distributed equitably. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON suggested considering the districts that had already presented a proposal at the top of the list, while all new applications would be prioritized. The subcommittee needed to research further why some districts did not send a request. CHAIR JAMES suggested re-opening an application period. She did not like the idea of putting the already existing proposals at the top of a list. HJR 34 - LIMIT LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO 90 DAYS The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HJR 34. CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Jerry Sander, sponsor of HJR 34, to present the resolution to the committee members. REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS said this was the same resolution he presented three weeks ago. If the resolution had been enacted the legislators would have been home by now. He cited he had received 21 constituent calls from his wife advocating for the resolution. He stated the time was now to consider changing the length of the legislative session to 90 days. Number 1234 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said due to his years of contracting experience, a contract typically took the exact number of days allotted. He believed if the resolution was passed, legislation would be prioritized enhancing the quality. He supported HJR 34. Number 1282 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked Representative Sanders if he had considered the change in the balance of power between the legislature and the Governor? Number 1303 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS replied the Governor was controlled by the public as much as he was controlled by the legislature. Therefore, the extra time spent at home dealing with constituents would bear more pressure on the Governor than by being in Juneau. Number 1320 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked Representative Sanders if HJR 34 was drafted to mean 90 days and not 91 days as the present system operated? Number 1338 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS replied HJR 34 was drafted so that 120 days were substituted with 90 days. Therefore, it was possible that a session could go 91 days. Number 1366 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said 90 days could be self-imposed right now if that was what the leadership wanted. There were broader issues concerned here that affected the budget cycle, resolutions, bills presented, and bill crafted, for example. She said she supported more interim committee work and more time off during the legislative session to present the work of the committees to the public. Gavel-to-Gavel definitely involved the public more, but it did not allow individual testimony from the public. Moreover, this was a very important and serious discussion. She suggested an interim or subcommittee to look at the issues further. Number 1540 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN replied if the issue was tabled or put into a subcommittee the resolution was killed. It was time to "fish or cut bait." Number 1572 CHAIR JAMES agreed that if the session was shortened to 90 days the work would get done. More work would be done before arriving in Juneau, for example. She was not sure of the semantics of the resolution, however. She suggested keeping the resolution clean so that when it went to the public it would be supported. She announced she was willing to move the resolution forward today. Number 1699 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS stated his major concern was how the balance of power would be affected between the legislature and the Governor. He was not sure how he would vote on this resolution when it reached the floor of the House of Representatives. However, he believed a good healthy debate on the floor would be very helpful to understand the issue and for the people that watch Gavel-to-Gavel. He would not vote against passing it out of the House State Affairs Committee. Number 1799 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HJR 34 move from the committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Representative Robinson objected. She was the author of two proposed amendments that had not been heard yet. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said there was a motion on the floor so it either needed to be rescinded or action taken. Number 1866 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER rescinded the motion. There was no objection. Number 1896 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained Amendment 1 proposed to change the constitution from an annual to a biennial state budget. She stated the change would allow state employees to do their job. By the time the legislature left Juneau, the departments started working on the next year's budget instead of doing their job. She believed the amendment would improve the process. Number 2020 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON moved to adopted Amendment 1. Representative Ogan objected. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said he understood the argument that a shorter session would save the state money. He agreed it would require more organization. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN further stated Amendment 1 was a substantial change. He needed time to look at it further and how it would affect the process. He was afraid it would weigh down the resolution through the rest of the legislative process. He would vote against it. Number 2095 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said the idea of a biennial budget was laudable. However, the reality of the state budget was such that it fluctuated with the price of oil compared to a stable resource, such as, a state income tax. He reiterated the budget was too unpredictable, therefore, he would not support the amendment. Number 2155 CHAIR JAMES said she would vote against the amendment because it turned the resolution into two issues. She suggested looking at it again in the future, however. CHAIR JAMES called for a roll call vote. Representatives James, Ogan, Ivan and Porter voted against the motion. Representatives Robinson and Willis voted in favor of the motion. The motion failed. Number 2205 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON moved to adopted Amendment 2. Representative Ogan objected. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained Amendment 2 allowed for a "baby step" change. It called for the first session to be 120 days and the second session to be 90 days. The first session was used more for organization and familiarization. The second session was before an election season so the shorter session would give more time to go back home, for example. She reiterated this was a baby step towards the change that Representative Sander's proposed in HJR 34. Number 2338 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he objected to the amendment. There was enough time during the interim. CHAIR JAMES called for a roll call vote. Representatives James, Ogan, Ivan and Porter voted against the motion. Representatives Robinson and Willis voted in favor of the motion. The motion failed. Number 2419 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HJR 34 move from the committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs Committee. Number 2449 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Robinson to present amendments to the Chair before the meeting to prevent the confusion earlier. She would not have accepted the motion from Representative Porter had she known about the amendments. TAPE 96-54, SIDE A Number 0000 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON apologized. She believed the resolution was going to be put into a subcommittee. ADJOURNMENT Number 0065 CHAIR JAMES adjourned the House State Affairs Committee meeting at 9:45 a.m.